April 20, 2006 — Cheryl Burgan Evans, a dedicated advocate for graduate student research, especially among students of color, will join the University of Virginia's Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies as its new director of Graduate Student Diversity Programs. Her official start date will be June 25.
The creation of this new position at U.Va. was recommended by the President's Commission on Diversity and Equity. The commission called for the University to establish a central office devoted to attracting and retaining more graduate students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
Evans holds a doctorate from Ohio State University and has been a long-time faculty member and administrator at the Miami University of Ohio. She has been associate dean of the graduate school since 1993 and associate professor of family studies and social work since 1984.
At Miami, Evans worked with admissions, financial aid and multicultural affairs to promote diversity within the student population, particularly graduate students. She also is a faculty affiliate in the Black World Studies program and serves on the Board of Women of Color Research Collective, a national organization that promotes professional, scholarly, educational and cultural advancement of women of color in higher education.
Evans served as the campus coordinator of the Student Achievement in Research and Scholarship (STARS) program, an innovative, statewide program in Ohio that encourages undergraduate students from underrepresented ethnicities to attend graduate school and pursue careers in higher education. In 2004, a conference focusing on multicultural graduate student research was named in Evans' honor.
Roseanne Ford, associate vice president in the research and graduate studies office, said, "We're fortunate to have Dr. Evans, given her broad experience and deep commitment, to lead our efforts to enhance the diversity of our graduate student population. At Miami of Ohio she was very successful in fostering a sense of community among graduate students from a wide range of backgrounds."
As director of graduate student diversity programs at U.Va., Evans will oversee activities to enhance recruitment, retention and mentoring of graduate students from underrepresented groups, especially in the University's doctoral programs. Additionally, she will be responsible for developing ties between the University, historically black colleges and universities and other minority institutions. These efforts will be crucial in the University's attempts both to increase the diversity of its graduate students and to improve its standing among national universities, according to Ariel Gomez, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.
"Increasing our enrollment of graduate students from underrepresented groups will make us a stronger university and will attract top faculty and undergraduates of all backgrounds. One of Dr. Evans' greatest strengths is her deep understanding of how diversity efforts can broadly benefit the whole University community," Gomez said.